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The time is running and the project is going forward. I´m working on a direction where the city-bike service is used as an infrastructure for games (more on that in my previous post). And for this week I really want to confine that idea, so that I can look at different interactions. There are some scheduled activities:

Rapid prototyping

A joint for a three-legged taburet, made by laser-sintering. This rapid prototyping lets the designer make higly complex geometries. Look at flickr´s digital fabrication group for inspiration.

This week our the studio will present our projects for other students currently occupied with rapid prototyping using laser-sintering. Their course is a learning course in project-based teamwork, and focused on production methods. Rapid prototyping (RP) using laser-sintering technology is a complex process that takes digital 3d computer models and “prints” them into physical models.

The students will work in team on our projects. For this I will present my project, and write a design brief.

They will be working with the casing for the electronics on the bike, but I want them to experiment and iterate on the brief, as to give me different solutions and new perspectives on my idea.

The presentation will be posted Wednesdays

Prototyping

Further work this week will be to try out bike game play with other people. I am making a simple prototype that is basically a camera that is easily triggered while cycling. I also want this prototype to have some “charge” mechanism that can when the cyclist may take the photos. To make the work-load smaller, I will make one working type and other mock-ups, so that more people can try together. More will follow.

but first some music: I have managed to piece together a little muxtape for while you wait:

Iteration five of my semester project has focused on the city-bike as platform for social networked services. I want to make a service that is about actions rather than representations of happened places. About being the in the  moment rather than looking at the image of it. I have pursued two conceptual directions from this stance: One is using the city-bikes as a infrastructure for game-play, the other is making a specific type of camera-culture. The later may feel a bit forced…

but first: Transport behaviour:

I have thought about the way my project may be used, and affect activities around the city-bikes.

A mental map of today´s transport behaviour looks like this:

The logic of general transport behaviour is obvious: the commuter travels as efficiently as possible on her way to work in the morning, but uses time on her way back. To meet friends, shop groceries, pick up children or stop by the gym. The behaviour is true for all public transport, bus, tram, train and city-bike. This means that the activity in the street has a totally different character in the morning than the afternoon.

 

My project may change that mental image to be something more like this:

What if one could tweak that behaviour? By motivating people to play more, what character would the street get?

 

Concept: Chaser

Chaser is a game platform that uses the city-bike as a infrastructure. Whats great about using this infrastructure is that it is uniform, widely distributed and instantly accessible.

Product statement:

Chaser is a game that uses bike sharing as a platform, and a way to connect to fellow bicyclists.

The aim of the game is to “catch” other cyclists, by snapping a photo of them. The camera will have to be within a certain range of another bicycle to be charged. The pictures themselves will not be of high quality, but rahter work as tokens, or trophyes that are rich on the moment they represent. You compete against other cyclists.

 

A (rather shakey) video of the experience of chasing an unknown bicyclist.

 

Watching other players. Bike rage in your neighbourhood!

 

An sketch of how a profile page might look for players in Chaser. Like social-networks a news feed that shows you activity relevant to your friends, the game and locations. The game might involve different activeties, like hits, conspiracies… This is just a generic mock-up, laid on top of facebook, and does represent my finished design.

 

Concept two: Camera culture

This is not a concept per se, but the conceptual landscape I have investigated earlier. I have found that getting interesting image from that kind of camera may be very difficult, furthermore, the images will be very similar so there is a danger of a very boring result. (see photostream below).

What do you look at?

Oslosykkel´s Flickr stream. It has quite coarse images for the moment, and I concider it more as a test to see what it looks like. As pointed out, it is not that interesting of a database… (Not geo-tagged unfortunately).

 

I have tried to look at different categorisations or organisation of the images, by place, time of day, by bicycle or mast recent. Again, these are generic mock-up´s and does not represent any attempt for beautiful visualisations. However, my intention is to put the bulk of the work on what happens in the moment, and not the web-end of the service.

“Recently updated” page

 

“Sorted by time” page

 

 

State of the art:  till looking at interesting/relevant projects around the web.

Cameras: I´m Looking into ways of manipulating the footage taken from the bicycles, so that it would have enough value on it own.

PanCam with Images

PanCam is a “slit” camera, that scans the middle row of pixels on a video-feed, thereby making long manipulated panoramas from the video. 

Vizualisation/Sharing:

I´, intrigued bu Microsoft´s Photosynth which is a software that maps photos on to 3D model, giving a new way of navigating around.

Games:

Rider Spoke by Blast Theory “Rider Spoke is a new work for cyclists combining theatre with game play and state of the art technology”

tagged city play by Lucid society “…is a multi player computer game, played in the real cities. The situatedness of this pervasive play is given by the use of mobile and ubiquitous computing devices.”

 

Design Brief for prototyping physical design:

Chaser is uses a camera device, attached to publicly used city-bike. The camera needs the robustness and neutrality required from the public domain, as well as standing to Clear Channels city-bike design.

From Frog designs frog blog: “design conversations, not products” have similar thought on the design practice as Schulze&Webb´s idea of “Products are people to

 

and Schulze&Webb´s Olinda radio has been launched. It is a very interesting approach to a product serving more than the obvious function (in this case a radio, a audio application). The physical product is just the touch point to service!

 

A little late on reporting from the workshop last week: Jack Schulze&Matt Webb showed us some real good methods to define design concepts, and to “breath life” into them by communicating the experiences the user might have and that will define the product for them (Matt used the example of unboxing a product.Some brands, like Apple, have managed to make that into an experience worthy of telling your friends about…).

experience-hooks-presentation

I found it really hard, but very helpful, to twist my head into imagining my project as a finished, established product, and the method certainly showed me how abstract my ideas still are…

The feedback I got was sure enough that I had to define my project. For the workshop, I had pursued an idea of making the concept a orienteering-based game about collecting pictures in the city, but I had not actually looked at the gaming itself, and that was realy those moments I should have presented in an engaging way. And it was also pointed out that I should be better at capitalising on the images taken. So I want to be more visual from now on.

 

Schulze&Webb´s approach to engaging design seems to be allot about branding the products in a way. Not as in logotypes and marked strategies, but about establishing believable product-worlds that shows what the product is all about. And sure enough it seems like product design and branding are melting more and more into each other, with service and product overlapping (think about the way the iPhone ad´s are instruction manuals or is it vice verca?). Enough ranting, needles to say the workshop was a great new insight to making engaging products. Now it reamins to do it…

 

Oh happy monday! We have started this week with a lecture by creative design consultancy Schulze& Webb. As stated on ther web-site, they are “working hands-on with companies to research and develop their technologies and strategy, primarily by finding opportunities in networks and physical things.” Very interesting projects! Check out their Availabot (which is a figure that represents on of your friends on messenger), or if you are as enthustiastic about radio as me, the Olinda digital radio that lets you share your listening with your friends (that is a dedicated switch lets you tune in to whatever your best friend is listening to). You will see their insight to engaging interactions.

Fortunately, they are also holding a workshop for us these three days, to help us better define what the projects are about.

Sketching out one idea that came up: Using the bike camera to raport bad driving. The user would earn money on reporting traffic offenders, documented with camera. I did not pursue the idea much further…

Our first task was to make a product statement for our project. And after several iterations and some well focused tutoring I have decided to explore my project as a game. So for the moment, my statement sounds something like this :

 

  • myView is a game that lets you compete with your friends, collecting images around the city, using a bicycle with a memory.

 

Further we were asked to describe the experience hooks that are found in the products. These are the moments that the user will remember and tell stories about. Mine are:

 

  • Discovering the game
  • Looking for your motive
  • Choosing when to take a picture
  • Taking a picture
  • Finding your picture
  • Receiving rapports on your activity
This has been a really fruitful day, and helped me revise my project.
Further work includes evidencing the concept and presenting it in a real, graspable and saleable way.

 

I´m at a point in my project (the semester for that matter) were I feel a heavy need to evolve from concept to interaction, so i have started to produce more actual material to discuss. let me try to explain were I´m at…

It has been pointed out to me that my earlier mapping of the different conceptual directions I can take this project are still undefined and abstract. And indeed as I said, the groupings are crude. So I thought  I´ll try to explain what I want to do, and my motives behind them:

My main objective with this project is to work with the act of using the bike-sharing system itself. This, because I think the system is of benefit for Oslo (in fact most cities I can think of) because it reduces car traffic, increases health, and enhances the relationship between the people and the city.  Needless to say, there are certain points of concern and issues to critique  when letting a commercial actor loose in the public domain (as part of a discussion on “branded utility” as coined by Johnny Vulkan of ad agency Anomaly), but, for arguments sake, I support any such intervention with the resulting potential Oslo Bysykkel has.

My idea has been to put cameras on the bike to:

  • Have an alternative view point of Oslo
  • Give users of the bicycles a tool for expression
  • To enhance the “bike sharing community” and thereby increase a social awareness about the effect of using the bicycle.

To quote Dan Hill on his article on transportation and information: “People can engage further with the city, seeing it through the prism of transport, building stronger civic relationships.”

Three references for combining information technology, visualisation and transport, from right to left: cabspotting, visualizing Barcelona city bikes, and Helsinki realtime public transportation map.

An early draft of the web-end of the service. 

However, I have an intention to work away from web based services, and into physical, tangible interactions. So then the problem arises: camera minus a screen to show the image from said camera… 

So what I´m doing is:

  • Never the less looking at the web-end of a service.
  • Trying out different feedback’s when interacting with a bicycle.
  • Working on the feedback-loop, the user-experience, investigating sound.
What kind of sound do you expect when interacting with a bicycle?

 

About this blog:

I am a master student at the Oslo school of Architecture & Design in Norway. My studies are in industrial design, focused on interaction design and tangible interactions. This blog follows a studio course called "Touch - new local interfaces" that researches tangible interaction and networked objects specially through RFID technology. My projects investigates interactions in the public domain, and is working against services around bike-sharing systems. Feel free to comment! Gunnar Bothner-By

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